Not that he’s the type to experience buyer’s remorse or even post-purchase anxiety, but if general manager Jerry Dipoto needed some assurance that his decision to finalize a contract extension for Wade LeBlanc on Tuesday afternoon was the right move, it came later that evening.
Hours after the club announced that they had signed LeBlanc to a contract extension through the 2019 season and with club options for three years beyond, the veteran left-hander went out and provided yet another example of their the reasoning of the deal, leading the Mariners to their eighth straight victory.
LeBlanc pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits with a walk and four strikeouts to improve to 4-0 and lead Seattle to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on a perfect summer night at Safeco Field.
It was a start typical of LeBlanc this season — controlled, efficient, not overpowering but effective. He lived on the edges of the plate, changed speeds and kept hitters off balance. How good was he? Well, he retired Mike Trout all three times he faced him.
LeBlanc’s only run allowed came in the fourth inning. He left a 2-1 cutter over the middle of the plate to Andrelton Simmons that was redirected over the wall in left field for a solo homer.
The Mariners (55-31) jumped on Angels starter Andrew Heaney for three runs in the first inning. Though it was Heaney’s own inability to command his pitches that aided the run scoring.
He gave up a one-out double to Jean Segura and then walked Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz to load the bases.
Kyle Seager continued to hit left-handed pitchers at a high rate this season, dumping a line drive into right field for a double that scored two runs. Seattle might have got more if not for Chris Young’s ability to get the ball in while in serious pain. As Young went to field Seager’s sinking liner, his right leg buckled on the play and he collapsed to the ground in pain. He managed to make an awkward throw from the ground to the cutoff man, but remained on the outfield grass grabbing his leg. He was eventually helped off the field by trainers. It was later announced that Young suffered a right hamstring strain.
The Mariners picked up another run when Heaney’s curveball in the dirt got past catcher Martin Maldonado, allowing Cruz to hustle home.
But the issues Heaney had in the first inning were resolved later. He pitched the next six innings scoreless, allowing just three more hits.
The moment Heaney left the game, the Mariners capitalized. Cruz smashed his 22nd second homer — a solo blast into the upper deck of Edgar’s Cantina — off Noe Ramirez in the eighth inning to push the lead to 4-1.
Edwin Diaz worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to notch his major-league-leading 33rd save of the season.
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